Aaron (A.Z.) and Jeanette (Nettie) Sinsheimer, Early Jewish Pioneers of San Luis Obispo, California

Aaron Zachery (A.Z.) Sinsheimer

Aaron Z. Sinsheimer, Portrait. #WS1663

Aaron Z. Sinsheimer, Portrait.

Values Codes: I-H-E-L-P


Aaron Zachery (A.Z.) Sinsheimer was born in 1838, at Burstadt, province of Daerstadt, Germany, son of Simon and Chana Sinsheimer.

Two of his brothers, Bernard (1848) and Henry (1854, were born in Burstadt, with Simon Sinsheimer’s second wife Carolena.


Along the Way

Aaron Z. Sinsheimer came to the United States in 1845 and was naturalized in 1860.

A.Z. Sinsheimer served in the Union Army as a quartermaster during the Civil War.

He was captured and imprisoned by the Confederate forces at Camp Ford in Texas for eleven months, in 1865.


A.Z. Sinsheimer married Jeanette “Nettie” Weil in 1865, whom he been courting before the war.

The couple first lived in New York.

In 1870, A.Z. moved his family to Vicksburg, Mississippi to be in the cotton business.

In 1878, A.Z. Sinsheimer’s business was destroyed by fire. His brother-in-law, Oscar Weil, immediately offered A.Z. a position in San Francisco, a place in his home, and financing to start a new business.


San Luis Obispo

A.Z. Sinsheimer decided to settle instead in San Luis Obispo, California where his brothers, Bernhard and Henry Sinsheimer had a large general merchandise business, Sinsheimer Brothers.

A.Z. began as an employee of the firm.

In 1884, the Sinsheimers purchased a lot on the east side of Monterey Street at Rose Alley, building a brick store 40 feet wide and 100 feet in depth with an iron front.

Today the Sinsheimer Building is regarded as one of the best preserved structures of the iron front style in the nation.

The Iron Fronted Sinsheimer Building of San Luis Obispo. #WS1651

The Iron Fronted Sinsheimer Building of San Luis Obispo.

In 1898, Bernhard and Henry Sinsheimer ended their partnership of Sinsheimer Brothers, and Bernhard Sinsheimer [Click Here] moved to San Francisco.

The successor firm was incorporated with the same name, Sinsheimer Brothers, with A.Z. Sinsheimer and his family in full control.

A.Z. Sinsheimer also began accumulating substantial land holdings in the area including: the Gibson Ranch, Irish Hills Ranch, Los Osos Ranch, See Canyon Ranch, Little Avila Ranch and the Lomita Ranch.



The Jewish community of San Luis Obispo was a recognized element of the population as early as 1870.

“The Hebrews of San Luis Obispo celebrated their New Year on Monday and Tuesday this week. All their stores were closed, and it appeared as though the life of the town was gone.

“We were never so much impressed with the weight of this class of our fellow citizens.”

                                                    –San Luis Obispo Tribune, September 23, 1887

Nettie Sinsheimer was one of the founders of the Jewish Sabbath School and for a long time, its Superintendent.



Aaron Z. Sinsheimer served as a City Councilman and on the San Luis Obispo School Board.

He was appointed to the County Board of Supervisors, specializing on the Probation Committee for Delinquent Children.



A.Z. Sinsheimer married Jeanette “Nettie” Weil in 1865.

Their two older sons were born in New York City; Samuel (1867) and Louis (1869).

Four more children were born while in Vicksburg; Gertrude (1871), May ( 1873), Sidney (1875), and Otto (1877).

Four additional children were born in San Luis Obispo; Paul (1879), Fern (1881), Irving (1883), and Warren (1885).

WS1646-^Otto Sinsheimer ^Louis Sinsheimer ^May Sinsheimer ^Paul Sinsheimer ^Waram Sinsheimer ^Irving Sinsheimer ^Gertrude Sinsheimer ^Sydney Sinsheimer ^Sam Sinsheimer ^Jeanette Sinsheimer ^Aaron Sinsheimer ^Sinsheimer Family Photo-San Louis Obispo,CA [1914]

WS1646-^Otto Sinsheimer ^Louis Sinsheimer ^May Sinsheimer ^Paul Sinsheimer ^Waram Sinsheimer ^Irving Sinsheimer ^Gertrude Sinsheimer ^Sydney Sinsheimer ^Sam Sinsheimer ^Jeanette Sinsheimer ^Aaron Sinsheimer ^Sinsheimer Family Photo-San Louis Obispo,CA [1914]


Jeanette “Nettie” Sinsheimer organized and was first President of the SLO Chapter of the American Red Cross, in 1898.

Nettie Sinsheimer was instrumental in having a Carnegie Library established in SLO, in 1904.

San Luis Obispo Public Library, circa 1910, Vintage Postcard

She was the County Chairman of The Women’s Board of the Panama-Pacific Internatioanl Exposition in San Francisco in 1914.

In 1915, A.Z. and Nettie Sinsheimer celebrated their Golden Anniversary – thirty-seven of which had been in San Luis Obispo.

A.Z. Sinsheimer passed away in 1919.

All the businesses of San Luis Obispo closed between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm in honor of his passing on the day of his funeral.

Jeanette “Nettie” Sinsheimer passed away in 1926.


The Sinsheimer Elementary School in San Luis Obispo. 


For more information see the following Issue of Western States Jewish History:

  • The Sinsheimers of San Luis Obispo, by Norton B. Stern and William M. Kramer, WSJH, Vol. 6, Issue 1, 1973.


David Epstein is Curator for this Aaron & Jeanette Sinsheimer Exhibit.

Also, thanks to David Yudain for additional information.

Family Pictures and addition and corrections are graciously accepted.

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